traveling and workout tips for dogs

Travels with Fido: Workout Tips for You and Your Dog This Spring

People who travel a lot for their jobs are often at a loss for how to maintain a healthy regimen on the road. If you’re on a tight itinerary, there probably isn’t much time to go shopping for healthful foods, and you’re likely not motivated to get to a nearby park or workout facility on your own. Whether you’re traveling for a job or vacation this spring, exercise may not be high on your to-do list. But what if you had a workout partner, someone you’re close to who can provide moral support and push you to do just a bit more?

What about taking your dog along?

Thanks to dog-friendly hotels and airlines, many people take their pooches along on trips to keep them from becoming bored at home or freaked out at the kennel, and to provide companionship. If your furry friend goes along with you, there’s your built-in excuse to make time for workouts at the beginning or end of the day, or between meetings. Here are a few exercise ideas that are great for you and your canine companion.  

Check with the vet

Always touch base with your dog’s vet before heading out on an extended stay. Make sure your furry friend is OK for regular exercise and ask what kinds of exercises would be best based on both condition and physical limitations. If you have a basset hound, you wouldn’t work that breed the way you would a Labrador retriever. Find out what kinds of physical activity your pooch is able to do and whether there are any exercise restrictions based before hitting the road together. It’s a good idea because you don’t want to be frantically looking for a vet if something should happen to your friend in the middle of the night. Before heading out for a run or other activity, be sure to stretch and give Fido a chance to limber up a bit, too.

Go for a walk

If you can find a dog park near your hotel or wherever you’re staying, your dog can get in some running and maybe socialize with other dogs. Or, try to find a park with walking paths or a wooded area with slightly challenging trails. If you’re not used to long brisk walks, try keeping it to about 30 minutes at first, and then slowly work your way up to 45 minutes or more. Your availability and physical condition will have something to say about it, of course, but a good stretch of the legs each day will do both of you a lot of good. If you do walk in the woods, check your pet’s coat for signs of ticks (check yourself while you’re at it). If your pup starts trailing behind you, ratchet the walk down next time or pick an easier surface or topography.

Tug-o-war or fetch

Some dogs don’t do so well going for walks. Yours might be more of a frisky, roughhousing type. If that’s the case, grab a Frisbee, a tennis ball or other dog-friendly toy and head for some open space where your dog can chase stuff or play tug with you. Let them wear themselves out so they are ready to settle down when you need to get some sleep, or if they’ll be spending some alone time during the day while you’re working.

Agility course

Dog parks sometimes have an agility course, which helps dogs strengthen joints, hips and legs and improve their agility. If you can’t find one, try setting one up using pillows and blankets and entice your dog through the course with a favorite toy or treat. Or, join in the fun and show puppy how it’s done. Why not? A little agility training never hurt anyone.

After burning off so much energy, you’ll want to make sure your loyal companion gets adequate rest. Be sure to bring along a comfortable dog bed from home. Dogs feel most vulnerable while sleeping, a feeling that can escalate when in an unfamiliar place, so it’s good to have something familiar for your pup to lay their head after a vigorous walk. Or, you can research other options such as crate and kennel mats or dog cot beds.

Doggie vacations

Dogs thrive in environments where they can stay active. If you’re headed to the beach for a summer vacation or to the mountains for a hiking trip, get Fido all packed up and ready to accompany you. Whether it’s swimming, running or hiking, your pet will have the time of their life.

Dogs that exercise on a regular basis not only stay healthy and live longer, they also exhibit fewer signs of bad behavior including chewing up upholstery or scratching the baseboards. If your pooch travels well, definitely take them along this spring and spend some bonding time while you keep each other in good shape.

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